Friday, 20 March 2020

Review: The Queen's Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

Summary: Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

Caledon Holt is the Kingdom of Renovia's deadliest weapon. No one alive can best him in brawn or brains, which is why he's the Guild's most dangerous member and the Queen's one and only assassin. He's also bound to the Queen by an impossible vow--to find the missing Deian Scrolls, the fount of all magical history and knowledge, stolen years ago by a nefarious sect called the Aphrasians.

Shadow has been training all her life to follow in the footsteps of her mother and aunts--to become skilled enough to join the ranks of the Guild. Though magic has been forbidden since the Aphrasian uprising, Shadow has been learning to control her powers in secret, hoping that one day she'll become an assassin as feared and revered as Caledon Holt.

When a surprise attack brings Shadow and Cal together, they're forced to team up as assassin and apprentice to hunt down a new sinister threat to Renovia. But as Cal and Shadow grow closer, they'll uncover a shocking web of lies and secrets that may destroy everything they hold dear. With war on the horizon and true love at risk, they'll stop at nothing to protect each other and their kingdom in this stunning first novel in the Queen's Secret series.

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The only other thing I've read from Cruz is the first few books in her Blue Blood series. Since then I haven't been interested in any of her new releases. Then The Queen's Assassin came along, and YA high fantasy being my favourite genre I immediately added it to my GoodReads "to-read" shelf.

If you're wanting a unique YA fantasy then this isn't it. However, for me, it was exactly what I wanted at the time. A quick addictive read with my favourite tropes, including the "Oh no! There's only one bed, guess we'll have to share" trope.

The highlights of the book have to be:
1) The plot twist - The twist was revealed towards the end of the story and I didn't see it coming at all. For me, there wasn't any clues leading up to it, so it truly came as a surprise.
2) The relationship between Cal and Shadow - The amusing back and forth banter kept me entertained and had me rooting for them.

The negatives have to to be the romance and the assassin aspect of the book. I think the build up of the romance was great, but when something finally happened it was a fade to black that ended all too quickly. In terms of Cal, he is said to be this amazing assassin, but there's only one scene in which we actually see him using his skills. There wasn't enough action, in my opinion.

Overall, I'm looking forward to reading the final book in the duology, which is set to come out later this year! 


Saturday, 13 July 2019

Thoughts: Mahimata by Rati Mehrotra

Summary: A young female assassin must confront the man who slaughtered her family, risk her heart, and come to terms with her identity as a warrior and as a woman in this thrilling fantasy from the author of Markswoman.

Kyra has returned to the caves of Kali, but her homecoming is bittersweet. Her beloved teacher is dead and her best friend Nineth is missing. And gone, too, is Rustan, the Marksman who helped her train for the duel with Tamsyn--and became far more than a teacher and friend.

Shaken by his feelings for Kyra and the truth about his parentage, Rustan has set off on a quest for answers. His odyssey leads him to the descendants of an ancient sect tied to the alien Ones--and the realization that the answers he seeks come with a price.

Yet fate has plans to bring Kyra and Rustan together again. Kai Tau, the man who slaughtered Kyra’s family, wages war on the Orders of Asiana. Hungering for justice, Kyra readies herself for battle, aided by her new companions: the wyr-wolves, who are so much more than what they seem. And determined to keep the woman he loves safe, Rustan joins the fight to ride by her side.

But will this final confrontation ultimately cost them their love...and their lives?

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Mahimata is the sequel to Markswoman, my review of book one can be found here. I feel like the Asiana duology is a under-rated gem of a series that needs more attention. The world building was explored more in Mahimata and we are given an extensive look at Asiana. The plot was action packed and the relationship between Kyra and Rustan was brilliantly done. I'm going to be honest and say that the ending was slightly confusing, but satisfying never the less. Overall, I would recommend this duology to adult and YA high fantasy lovers alike!


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Review: Evermore by Sara Holland

Summary: Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

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Unfortunately, the conclusion to the Everless duology was disappointing. 

I think my main issue with Evermore was that it was missing the element that made book one so interesting, i.e. the time is currency aspect. 

Evermore is basically focused on Jules running away from Caro, while at the same time trying to find a way to destroy her. There were a lot of flashbacks to their shared past together, and these flashbacks were used as a way to reveal answers which I thought was a bit of a cop out. The plot felt dragged out and the constant repetition didn't help matters. I never really felt any sense of excitement when I came back to the book after putting it down, I just wanted it to end, which is never a good sign.

The romance was kind of just there for me, it was nothing to write home about. I feel like there was potential, but it was lacking chemistry. 

The ending wrapped things up, however, Holland left it so that there could potentially be room for another book. Suffice to say I won't be reading it if there is, as at this point I'm no longer interested. 


Sunday, 6 January 2019

Review: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Summary: High in a snowy mountain range, a monastery that holds more than just faith clings to the side of a cliff. Below, thwarted by a lake, a bloodthirsty horde of raiders await the coming of winter and the frozen path to destroy the sanctuary and its secrets.

The Bloodwitch Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop the destruction. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.

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Publication date: 12/02/2019

The Witchlands series is probably one of my favourite on-going series'. I've been impatiently waiting for the release of book three, and the fact that it's Aeduan's story had me even more excited.

As with the previous books, Bloodwitch, switches perspectives, with Aeduan's being the central point of view. I have shipped Aeduan and Iseult since the first time they crossed paths in Truthwitch. So, it's no surprise then that my favourite parts of Bloodwitch where when they were together - like I tried to slow down and savour those moments when I got to them, yet at the same time  I couldn't read fast enough. Dennard has done such a good job with creating tension between these two - they are the definition of slow burn.

If you're looking for a YA fantasy which features complex and multi-layered female characters this is the one. I love how Dennard has created female characters that are strong, but in different ways. She shows that the term "strong female character" doesn't just mean being able to fight and not liking feminine things - which I really appreciated as this is something that frustrates me.

A character who I absolutely fell in love with in Bloodwitch was Leopold. I really enjoyed his interactions with Iseult, but he's still a bit of a mystery, so I'm hoping we get to learn more about him in the next book.

The overall plot was amazing, and I liked all the interconnecting story-lines. All in all, Bloodwitch was a fantastic addition to the Witchlands series!


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Ships from books I've read so far this year

Hey, guys! Today I'm sharing my ships from some books I've read so far this year.

Laia and Elias from A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Catherine and Tzsayn from The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Rielle and Audric from Furyborn by Claire Legrand 

Theo and Soren from Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian 

Noemi and Abel from Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Who are you shipping from the books you've read so far this year?  😃

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Review: Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray

Summary: Noemi Vidal has returned to her planet, Genesis, as an outsider - ostracised for refusing to end the Liberty War by sacrificing Abel, the most advanced mechanical man ever made. She dreams of travelling through the stars again, and when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. The only soldier to have ever left her planet, it will be up to her to save its people. If only she wasn't flying right into a trap.

Abel, now fully aware of his soul and captaining his own Vagabond ship, never dreamed he'd see Noemi again, not when the entire universe stands between them. But when his creator Burton Mansfield delivers news of Noemi's entrapment, Abel knows he must save her, even if it means risking his own life.

Danger lurks in the dark corners of the galaxy, and Abel and Noemi will discover a secret that could save Genesis and Earth... or destroy them all. 

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I feel like the first book in this planned trilogy, Defy the Stars, is so under-rated. If you didn't like Gray's Evernight series don't let that put you off these books. They are diverse, action packed reads with root worthy characters.

I'm going to be honest and admit that it took me a second to get back into the world. The reason why is because I wasn't expecting the two main characters, Abel and Noemi, to be spending the first half of the book apart. What made book one so interesting was Noemi and Abel's adventure together. However, I was determined not to DNF it because I loved book one so much, and in the end I'm so glad I did. My initial struggle to get back into the world didn't last too long, after about 5% Noemi and Abel's separate story arcs took off. I got sucked right back in, and was eagerly waiting for them to reunite. As with the first book there's diversity, religion, and philosophical pondering which I enjoyed.

The relationship between Abel and Noemi is literally the definition of a slow burn romance.  There's no rush to say the L world, instead Gray's takes time exploring their feelings for one another. I always prefer when there's a build up of tension, and hints of thing to come in book one of a series. Then in book two you see it come to fruition like yesss!

The ending was shocking! I didn't see it coming and it makes me wonder what direction the conclusion will take.


Friday, 30 March 2018

Review: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Summary: The queen you were meant to be
The land you were meant to save
The throne you were meant to claim

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. Ten years later, Theo has learned to survive under the relentless abuse of the Kaiser and his court as the ridiculed Ash Princess. 

When the Kaiser forces her to execute her last hope of rescue, Theo can't ignore her feelings and memories any longer. She vows revenge, throwing herself into a plot to seduce and murder the Kaiser's warrior son with the help of a group of magically gifted and volatile rebels. But Theo doesn't expect to develop feelings for the Prinz. 

Forced to make impossible choices and unable to trust even those who are on her side, Theo will have to decide how far she's willing to go to save her people and how much of herself she's willing to sacrifice to become Queen.

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Publication date: 24/06/18 (UK)

Ash Princess was an addictive page-turner that held my attention from start to finish. Whenever I had to put it down I was always eager to return. I even took to reading it on the Kindle app on my phone when I was out, which is something I never do, because I can't stand reading on anything but my Kindle. 

A warning to readers who are not a fan of books featuring violence and dark subject matters, Ash Princess doesn't shy away from either. The plot sounds like a typical YA fantasy what with the conquered land, a princess out for revenge, and the "love triangle" with her rebel ally and enemy Prinz. However, despite the tropes I found the world Sebastian has created interesting and not at all cliche. Theo's inner struggle and character development was really well done. She was forced to make some hard decisions, and I was fully rooting for her throughout.

In regards to the "love triangle" (and I say love triangle loosely) I honestly didn't mind it. I can't believe I'm saying that, but it's true. It's quite possibly the only love triangle I've read that hasn't made me mad and want to DNF the book. I think it's largely due to the fact that it's not your typical love triangle. Theo isn't constantly mooning over the two love interests. She has fleeting thoughts here and there, but it doesn't overtake her main concern: overthrowing the enemy and reclaiming her land. Also, to me at least, it's obvious where her heart truly lies. 

Overall, a very compelling read. I can't wait for the sequel!  

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